Hundreds of students took to their school's hallways and social media Tuesday to defend their public school history teacher who has come under fire for reportedly injecting his faith into the classroom.
John Osborne, an educator at Sequoyah High School in Canton, Georgia, is willingly taking a break from teaching to consider whether he'll return after someone complained that he made an inappropriate comment about God and marijuana, according to USA Today.
"I do have the right to fight for what I believe in and talk about Jesus in the classroom," said Osborne, who alerted school officials last Friday that he's taking some time off.
Students assumed, though, that their teacher had been removed from the classroom by the district when they didn't see him in class Tuesday, so hundreds of teens took to the hallways holding signs and chanting "Bring back Osborne."
Pictures of the student protest and responses to the debate have circulated on Twitter:
Everyone! They news is here! Right when the bells rings, go to the front of the school and let the news know what we want! #wewantosborne— Trey Slade (@SladeTrey) September 9, 2014
So teachers can talk about every other religion, but they can't talk about the religion that this country was founded on.. #wewantosborne— Ryder Briggs (@RyderBriggs15) September 9, 2014
The Cherokee County School District has since clarified that Osborne left temporarily on his own accord and that he is still employed — a fact the teacher has confirmed.
"Specific details about personnel matters in regard to current CCSD employees are protected and will not be disclosed," officials said in a statement. "The Sequoyah High School teacher in question remains a CCSD employee and no disciplinary action has been taken against him; the teacher on Friday gave the school's administration notice that he would be taking leave this week."
The educator, who admitted to talking about God openly, is denying the latest allegation against him: that he told students they will go to hell if they smoke pot.
"I teach world history so there is a lot of talk about religion and really all I want is equality to talk about everything in America, including Christianity," Osborne told WGCL-TV.
He isn't sure if he'll return to teaching, though the district is not asking him to leave and hasn't disciplined him. Still, Osborne said he feels unsupported by school officials.
See a video of the protest below:
"I don't know — only God knows — and I will pray about it," he said regarding whether he'll return. "As I've grown in Christ, it has shown more in the classroom, and as it's gotten stronger, I just feel like I'm not going to change who I am. I'm not going to press my issue on you, but I'm going to be myself."
Let Jesus back in class!— John Osborne (@josborne82) September 9, 2014
Do not tell me I cannot talk about Jesus in public schools! He was there for me and He is there for you!— John Osborne (@josborne82) September 9, 2014
Osborne, who has been vocal on Twitter over the past week, was reportedly previously suspended in 2012 for similar issues, but he was reinstated after students protested, according to the Associated Press.
(H/T: USA Today)